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My neighbor—he’s on fire

Detonated on May 27, 2012.

If karma is a bitch, and gravity’s a grump,

What does that then make… my scaly ol’ kerfrump’?

If scaly ol’ kerfrumpts… use eating-snouts to think,

What does that then make… my humperdumperdink?

I pondered this quandary for several days this week as I sat on the floor of my kitchen surrounded by alternating jars of mayonnaise and hollandaise sauce. Yellow followed white followed yellow, all around in a neatly-arranged circle. And in the middle sat I, with my pair of scaly ol’ kerfrumpts perched delicately upon my surprisingly pointy head, one atop the other. Karma and gravity bitched and grumped. My ’frumpts were busy contemplating up a storm using their quivering, queeging eating-snouts. And my humperdumperdink relaxed upstairs in its cage, rotund and hairless as ever.

I continued my pondering, kerfrumpt-like, all the way through Wednesday, Thursday, and even Throbsday, but when Friday arrived, I was distracted from my pondermongery by a knock on my front door(knob!). After groaning and swearing my way to a standing position—man, does muscle atrophy set in fast!—I hobnobbled over to my door(knob!) and opened it. What I saw sitting on my unwelcoming mat was a gaudy brass-&-glass lamp, encased in a lampshade made out of a single sheet of stained white paper, on which was written the word wowiee! over and over in blackish-green ink. I looked around; there was no one around—or up or down. I looked back down—then up, and frowned. Perhaps the lamp-deliverer had left, I smurmized—or perhaps the lamp had been deposited here by teleportation—viz., by visiting space aliens, Klingons, or even Cylons.

I bent down. Hips groaned and creaked under the sudden stress applied to them as a supermassive weight shifted forward. I realized those were my hips doing that but that didn’t faze me. I picked up the lamp: Shade and all. I snorkeled sagaciously as I straightened back up. (There was no water around: Rather than snorkeling, should I have frobnicated instead?) I tried to make some sense of the rather juvenile exclamation that had been scribbled all over this makeshift lampshade, obviously by a variety of different hands… and perhaps even some feet, judging by the penmanship.

No theories, conjectures, or even suppositions were forthcoming from my brain, nor any of its parts, nor even any of the many animalcular inhabitants therein and thereunder. The thinkin’-monkeys were at a loss to provide any thoughts. The head-hamsters were all running on their wheels, as furiously as they could, but they could offer no suggestions, either. Neither Zippy, nor Fluffy, nor Wrrhnrrhthlplck’ck, nor even my very own head-Six could provide any counsel beyond making burbling noises reminiscent of a child trying to emulate a helicopter via the emission of rapid-fire bilabial plosives. Even the lice nesting amongst the myriad filamentous strands of keratinous growth dotting the landscape of my over-brain dome could offer nothing beyond the occasional pruritis.

So, I did the only thing I could do: I went back indoors, opened a window, and waited beside it until Mr. Van der Woobie drove by in his comical little Gremlin. I then hurled the lamp with all my might through the passenger-side window of his car. The window was rolled up but the lamp was heavy, so such details mattered little.

One detail that did matter was the fact that the the lamp was filled full with kerosene—it wasn’t one of these new-fangled electrican things, oh no!—so within moments, the inside of Mr. Van der Woobie’s motorcar was engulfed in a fiery blaze not seen since the last time I went on a “Burn, burn, burn! arson spree. The wrinkled old doddery-codger made it safely out of his vehicle, through the windshield a fraction of a second after the Gremlin came to a screeching halt in front of a rather solid telephone poll.

“Actually, I plan to vote for the ficus tree this year!” I answered the pollster on the other end of the line. These polls always annoyed me. I was sure he would be crushed by my refusal to throw my rather hefty weight behind his preferred candidate. But, things being as they are, and not being what they aren’t, I had to vote my conscience this year and cast my ballot for the ficus tree. The long pause on the other end of the line demonstrated beyond a squintilla of a doubt that the telephone pollster was indeed beside himself with grief that I wouldn’t vote for Abe Vigoda or his outmoded hat.

“Sir…?” the pollster finally began.

I clenched my craw as I recognized that particular tone of voice—hesitant and confounded, with a bit of fear that one was speaking to a dangerous and unpredictable idiot. I had heard it so often before. I knew now where this conversation was going, so I interrupted him before he could get even one more sybblable out: “If the next words out of your mouth are, ‘You’re going to have to leave the store now, sir,’ I’ll have you know that I am already safely at home and not even in your store anymore! And besides, how do you know that I was responsible for all those rotting fish heads and gutted turnips dumped all over the floor on aisle sixteen, eh? Eh…!? You don’t! Mm-hmm! You’ve got no evidence!

I didn’t bring up the terrible tragicomedy of catsup, mustard, relish, mayonnaise, soy sauce, and feminine hygiene products that I—er, someone—had left on aisles twenty through twenty-two, nor the colorful words and phrases that had been spelled out with these items all over those aisles’ tile floors. Some things were just too much.

I smugged smirkly. Upstairs my humperdumperdink quoiled in its cage—loudly. My fondest wish was that the Spend-O-Mart manager (I think his name was Borb) could see the look engrossing my face, and see all the hairs that my humperdumperdink had suddenly started growing. The beast sensed my indignance and did what it could to defend its master—grow hairs from all its noödermal surfaces.

I waited for Borb’s response. I knew it would be good. Seconds tick-tock-tucked by. And then:

“Sir…? This is the 9-1-1 operator. …Do you need any assistance?”

I squeaked. The dispatcher’s verbal emphasis on the hyphens in “9-1-1” brought me back to reality—viz., the here-and-now that I so rarely inhabit while conscious and noötic. I squeaked again for good measure.

“Oh, yes! My neighbor—he’s on fire.” I phrased it with the blasé tones one might use when ordering soup over the phone.

“Did… you say your neighbor is on fire? Do you mean his house—”

“No, Borb, my neighbor—he’s on fire.” I looked out the window again. Mr. Van der Woobie pranced around in the middle of Bouillabaisse Boulevard, flailing his arms and roasting quite nicely. “You’d better hurry up, or there’s not going to be much left of the old doddery-codger by the time you get here!” Click!

I clicked my tongue against the back of my teeth a second time, then hung up the phone. The breedling noise upstairs came to a cease—my humperdumperdink had returned to its relaxed and cross-eyed state. I looked out the window again and chortled muppishly. Now, if only I knew where I put that roll of hotdogs and hamburgers that I bought at the Spend-O-Mart last Smunday, I could have a cookout right in the middle of my street!  ◊